'Growing up, I wanted to be white': How Bollywood dance helped this artist embrace her culture

After growing up surrounded by very little diversity, dance played a major role in teaching Toronto's Shereen Ladha to be proud of her South Asian heritage.

Shereen Ladha learned to be proud of her South Asian heritage through dance

How Bollywood helped Toronto's Shareen Ladha hang on to traditional values while living in a westernized world.

6 years ago
Duration 2:07
YouTube creators Jorden Lee and Nile Goveia, tell us Shereen's story, starting in her teenage years all the way to her adulthood.

"Growing up, I actually wanted nothing more than to be white."

It's hard for Shereen Ladha to look back on the time in her life when this was true. The Toronto dancer has grown to feel incredibly proud of her South Asian identity — but when she was young and living in a community where there was very little diversity, she felt alone. "Life would be so much easier if I just fit in, if I was white," she remembers thinking.

In this video directed by YouTube creators Jorden Lee and Nile Goveia, Ladha opens up about her journey from those difficult childhood times to her cultural pride today. Looking back, she says Bollywood dance played a major role in helping her get there: her parents enrolled her in classes as a kid, and sticking with it through the years ultimately helped her embrace her culture. Now, she wants something very different than what she wanted growing up: "I want to show people what being Indian means through the only way I can — which is through dance."

Watch Exhibitionists Sunday at 4:30pm (5pm NT) on CBC Television.